Chartered Institute welcomes judicial review judgment

The Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) has welcomed a High Court judgment that the Institute acted appropriately in referring a complaint about a member to the Taxation Disciplinary Board.

In a judicial review judgment handed down on Tuesday 27 April and published today Mr Justice Holgate states that:

“the CIOT’s decision to refer a complaint about one of its members to the TDB is not amenable to judicial review and the claim must be dismissed” (para 79)

  • Even if the decision had been amenable to judicial review the process of referral was not unfair as there is “no legal justification for imposing a requirement that a member should be able to make representations before the CIOT may refer an external complaint to the TDB.”  (para 86)
  • Even had CIOT provided the opportunity for the member to make representations before the referral was made “it is highly likely that [CIOT] would still have referred the external complaint to the TDB for consideration under the [Taxation Disciplinary Scheme]. I have no doubt that it would still have been appropriate for that purely procedural and initial step to have been taken.” (para 101)

Disciplinary proceedings against CIOT members (chartered tax advisers) are dealt with by the independent Taxation Disciplinary Board (TDB). Anyone may make a referral to the TDB – including CIOT, HMRC, a client or any member of the public. Once the TDB receives a complaint the disciplinary process potentially has four stages – initial consideration by a reviewer, consideration by an Investigation Committee, a Disciplinary Tribunal and an Appeal Tribunal. At each of the latter three stages a member facing a complaint is able to make representations and refute the case against them.

John Cullinane, CIOT Director of Public Policy, commented:

“We are pleased that the High Court has found that the Institute acted properly in referring a member to the Taxation Disciplinary Board after it was drawn to our attention that tax planning devised and promoted by their firm may breach the standards for tax planning contained in Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation.

“The TDB operates a robust and independent investigatory and disciplinary process, which provides a fair opportunity for those accused of a breach of our professional rules to defend themselves before any finding is made or any penalty imposed. TDB policy is not to publicise such cases until its investigations have confirmed that the matter should move to the disciplinary stage. The referral of a complaint to the TDB is simply the first stage of a careful and thoroughly fair process.”